I had a meeting today at one of the clinics at which I work. (Yes, on a Saturday. How bloody inconsiderate is that?) I make it a point of principle never to work on a weekend, unless I am running a workshop and getting paid for it. I had to be persuaded quite hard to attend this meeting. I have too many interesting and stimulating things to do at the weekend – like grocery shopping, laundry and housework – to be bothered schlepping in to work for insignificant conversations that could just as easily be held during the week. Anyway, for various reasons the meeting was held this morning and I was persuaded to attend.
I arrived ten minutes late. In any other circumstances one could simply say “sorry for being late” and it would all be over. But this was a room full of psychotherapists. And in a room full of psychotherapists, a big cigar is never just a big cigar.
As the meeting progressed into areas of previously uncharted tedium, my mind wandered off onto the subject of my lateness. How would my colleagues view it? I suspected thus:
The Transactional Analysts would see my behaviour as a discount, either of my significance to the group or the group’s significance to me. Either way they were probably a bit pissed off, which they would have to express in order not to enter into a symbiosis with my discounting behaviour.
The Gestalt Therapists would see it as an avoidance of contact and intimacy, by my missing the ten minutes of socialising before the meeting started. That was sure to piss them off, which they would have to express to maintain their congruence.
The Psychodynamic Therapists would hypothesise that it was either an unconscious expression of anger and resentment at having to attend the meeting in the first place, or that my ‘making an entrance’ was an unconscious expression of my grandiosity and need for attention. They wouldn’t be pissed off, because they don’t do pissed off, but they might have me sprawling on a pin at some point in the future when it is but a distant memory for me.
The Relational Therapists would be processing their counter-transference – which was almost certainly irritation – and trying to understand if I was projecting my anger onto them or inviting their anger in order to replay a historic drama. Either way, they were also pissed off but I trusted that they would be able to process this internally and only bring it up with me if they felt it was useful to our process.
The Person-Centred Counsellors would want to understand my experience of lateness, before moving to an interpretation which would be nonetheless based on an unconditional positive regard for me as a person. They are nice people.
The Cognitive-Behavioural Therapists would see that I need some adjustment to my time management skills, and that just six sessions of CBT would resolve my problem. They would be pissed off if I questioned my need for CBT.
I then realised that none of them gave a monkey’s toss that I was late, which means that I am either paranoid, narcissistic, or both. I came home and had a lie down.